The penultimate race weekend of the 2009 Cooper Tires British F3 International Series, at Portimão, proved to be testing for many, including Litespeed F3. However, it’s a measure of the team that, faced with one adversity after another, they were able to race, finish and are ready for Brands Hatch next weekend.
With Victor Corrêa’s drive shaft going in Friday testing, the weekend was not off to a flying start. Undaunted, team members drove more than 200km to Lisbon, where Mygale had sent a replacement. It was going to mean a long night ahead, but the team’s ‘Can Do’ motto is well and truly embedded.
Saturday qualifying, one car – temporarily – down and Jay Bridger (in his Mygale) and Satrio Hermanto hit the track with gusto. Seven laps into the session and Hermanto’s gearbox was to blow. Whilst he had qualified for the first race on Sunday, the team was now looking at 2 cars with major engineering work to be undertaken – quickly! Bridger qualified 22nd out of 30.
Second qualifying and the team had worked wonders on Corrêa’s car. Yes, he qualified at the back of the grid, but he was to prove his metal on race day. Bridger was to qualify 21st, but with the team testing a new set up in preparation for Brands Hatch, he too was to gain valuable places when it mattered.
What was to happen next would prove true sportsmanship and comraderie and shows that decent human nature still exists - even in the competitive world of motor sport. The engineers at Art Grand Prix offered their services and worked with Litespeed F3 until midnight on Hermanto’s gearbox, to give the Indonesian driver a chance of competing the following day. A further couple of hours by the Litespeed engineers and Satrio’s car was ready to race. There was genuine disappointment from Art Grand Prix as well as Litespeed when the gearbox blew again on Sunday after 6 laps and proved to be irreparable.
‘It’s motor sport and unfortunately these things happen’, said Director of Engineering, Steve Kenchington. ‘Nobody likes such outcomes but success in motor sport can be reliant on the intricacies of such small dynamics that are incomprehensible to determine. The most important thing within a team is the relationship between the engineers and the drivers. Without it, you have nothing.’
Of course Kenchington was right. Quiet and self-effacing, the man is one of the most knowledgable and un-egotistical people in the industry. He and the team changed the set-up on Bridger’s car and used Portugal to test it before the final race of the season in 7 days time. The result was Bridger finishing at least ten places higher than he qualified in both races. He was 6th overall in the second race – his best position and demonstrating a ‘maturity of performance worthy of the out-going champion.’ Corrêa, with a new drive shaft was able to re-confirm his 3rd place championship finish with two 4th place finishes in a trying and challenging weekend.
‘This was a tough weekend,’ said Kenchington. ‘Having said that, we are extremely pleased both with Victor’s and Jay’s results. For different reasons they are very satisfying and we are looking forward to what transpires at Brands Hatch.’
For more information/ images, pleas ontact: Sara Mastriforte, Email: email@example.com